The Future of Amdocs Clarify
How does the future look for the owner of the Amdocs Clarify CRM system?
When Amdocs acquired Clarify, it led the way in combining its specialization in billing with CRM. This was an exciting story for the industry as a whole, sparking more acquisitions, and fueling general interest in the broader integration of departments.
The story since then has been a mixed one for Amdocs customers, although the surge in CRM has led to some new integration possibilities. The upgrade path for the once-pioneering Clarify system under Amdocs has had a tortuous history, with no progression outside of the proprietary Clarify codebase, and with Amdocs moving awkwardly into thin-client experimentation. Lately the company has been developing open frameworks.
Even within the main Amdocs constituency of telecommunications, some Clarify owners have looked outside of Amdocs for help, notably with the Dovetail Software enhancements. Amdocs remains focused on telcos, but is also expanding now into the banking industry, and is developing significant sales and billing integration tools.
Most IT departments, however, are still wrangling with integrating decades of legacy systems, not just tying the front-office into accounting, but also into the nowadays-so-crucial service and support systems, as well as integrating withERP systems, and ultimately the whole value chain. With all this spaghetti, let alone with the new SOA and the prospect of on-demand services, there’s plenty of work for systems integrators. Dovetail Software itself is seeing more pureconsulting requirements in recent years, and this is true for the larger vendors also.
The major CRM vendors, including Amdocs, are focused on developing whole-suite solutions that promise to cover all the business process requirements of a company, but these all constitute considerable lock-in for perhaps decades to come.
Meanwhile architecture in general is changing to enable smaller systems and reusable services, all based on open standards that offer broad horizons. Lock-in with one major vendor may just remove a company from the wealth of the network effect, as the global network grows bigger and richer. For IT decisionmakers, the choices fall somewhat between the themes of snugness or freedom.
Even beyond the immediate tasks of integration, CIOs have to look to the job of reinventing their companies to become functionally and culturally customer-centric. Coupled with this is the great margin of corporate knowledge lying ready to be mined, and cultivated anew, and harvested again and again. What single vendor can supply all the tools to achieve these goals? Most importantly for IT is to buy products that at least don’t lock out interoperability with potential other systems
For the Clarify owner, at least, as we’ve said before, some of the choices are simple. Dovetail Software is the answer for the application suite deployed against the robust Clarify database. Dovetail products immediately deliver vast feature and function enhancement, in a seamless replacement install, but more than this they deliver the freedom to choose the future beyond one vendor, and outside the confines of CRM.
Microsoft’s .NET platform is not going away any time soon, and Microsoft itself is embarked on multiple threads of development that have a way of converging at useful points. The commitment to open standards is greater than at any time in the company’s past, although the DNA dies hard of wanting to rule the roost with proprietary lock-ins. Microsoft, as with all IT thinkers today, sees the value of open standards, and knows that it cannot succeed in going against them.
Dovetail offers its own SDK based on .NET, and a wealth of APIs and Web Services that enable customization of the Clarify system, both between departments and with other computing systems.
We will amplify this theme of a future based on freedom using Dovetail products with a Clarify database, stay tuned.